SYDNEY -- Fancy an overseas holiday or an iPad or Kindle full of e-books? Now is probably the best time to do your overseas shopping or book that U.S. trip.
The Australian dollar recently hit a six week low and is currently trading around 102.44 U.S. cents -- down from a mid-August high of close to 106 U.S. cents.
The pressure has intensified as our biggest export market, China, slows. Iron ore and coal prices have fallen more than 30% in less than six months.
Locally, the housing industry is sluggish, retailers are struggling, and some media companies see no lift in the current bleak advertising market until 2015.
Because our dollar is closely linked to commodities prices (they're our major export), usually the dollar will follow. But the Australian dollar has been stubborn and stayed high while commodity prices fell. This is largely because while the rest of the world struggles with its own issues, Australia has been seen as a relative safe haven for capital. Even the Swiss central bank started buying Australian dollars.
As I see it, some of the main catalysts for the Australian dollar to fall further are the actions by the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve. If the U.S. decides to stimulate its economy or Europe takes control of its debt issues we could see the Australian dollar take a rapid dive. Investors would likely have more confidence in Europe and the U.S., and we could see the Australian dollar deserted in favor of the euro or U.S. dollar.
Markets around the world appear to be expecting positive action to be taken by both regions, which means an Australian dollar trading above parity with the U.S. dollar should not be taken for granted.
But while it is, investors and consumers have an opportunity to take advantage of the high dollar. If you plan on booking that overseas trip, now might be the best time to walk into a Flight Centre agent or get online to Webjet Limited's site and book those overseas holidays.
Shopping at U.S. sites and others such as Amazon might also be a good idea now. Investors might consider investing in U.S. or European companies, as shares are cheap -- both because of the high Australian dollar and the weak sentiment in those regions. Actions by the respective central banks could see those markets take off. It's also ideal protection should the Australian economy falter.
Investors could also consider an investment in one of the many ASX-listed companies with the majority of their earnings offshore, such as CSL Limited or News Corporation. If individual companies don't take your fancy, there are plenty of exchange-traded funds on the ASX that can give you exposure to U.S. or European markets.
The Foolish bottom line
Markets are expecting U.S. and European central banks to take action to fix their relative issues. It those actions come about, it could be the pin that popped the Aussie's balloon, and we could see the dollar plummet. Now's the time to take advantage.
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